TDI -- Reporter's Blog

Oct. 20, 2009 at 1:00pm

Boring Campaign Signs 101

Last name in bold red letters? Check.

The word 'Mayor' in bold blue letters? Check.

Plain white background? Check.

Too bad Tacoma doesn't have any talented artists, illustrators or graphic designers who could have helped these folks.

Oh . . . wait a minute . . .

comments [46]  |  posted under campaign, city hall, politics


by Nick on 10/20/2009 @ 1:16pm
Eh, I don't know, they get the job done. Sure they're uninspiring, but the aren't gallery pieces, they're intended to be readable by people passing by in cars in 5 seconds or less.

Then again, they aren't exactly awe inspiring or attention grabbing either.

by morgan on 10/20/2009 @ 1:22pm
Thank you Todd for saying what has to be said! I find it interesting that these signs are always made by union shops. Can't they be a little more creative? It's just a matter of time before the Chinese take over this industry at this point.

by TDI-Reporters-Notebook on 10/20/2009 @ 2:13pm
It just seems odd the two candidates for mayor have identical campaign signs.

by NineInchNachos on 10/20/2009 @ 3:35pm
looks like they're using the same font, strictland's is a little squished though.

My favorite yard sign needs to go to the reject r71 signs. I like how it looks like a 'no trespassing' sign you pick up from a hardware store.

my favorite yard sign of all time though goes to the executive excellence party.

Mike Lonergan

by NineInchNachos on 10/20/2009 @ 3:37pm
anyone notice how similar Catherine U-Hall signs were to the old Dino Rossi designs?

They must have pre-designed signs you can pick from a catalog.

by Marty on 10/20/2009 @ 6:02pm
No catalog that I have ever seen, there is just only so many combinations of color and font.

My tech-fu is poor, but it would be interesting to have a poll with all candidates signs and vote for best looking.

by fredo on 10/20/2009 @ 6:39pm
I was driving on Union Ave. this afternoon. It was a beautiful fall day and the trees planted in the middle of the avenue were in their most resplendent autumn foliage.

The entire scene, however, was marred by the most ghastly display of hundreds of utterly inconsequential campaign signs planted on the public right of way. Shame on the candidates for allowing this to happen. Only the world's stupidest voters would be influenced by this abomination.

by wildcelticrose on 10/20/2009 @ 8:41pm
Litter on a Stick.

Personally, I think any campaign that places these things on public right of ways should be forced to remove them or risk disqualification.

by L.S.Erhardt on 10/20/2009 @ 8:45pm
remove them yourself. What's Strickland gonna do? Come to your house and tear you a new one?

It's fair game, I say. The politicos won't even make eye contact with us little people, so take the signs and recycle them.

Or find out where they live and dump 'em all on the front lawn. That would be hilarious!

by fredo on 10/20/2009 @ 9:11pm
Every candidate says they're running to make Tacoma a better place. Is this an example of how they're going to accomplish trashing our city?

by morgan on 10/20/2009 @ 9:42pm
The signs seem to be an evil necessity. Even though studies have been done that show they aren't worth the hassle. Most people don't decide who to vote for based on who has the most signs. And the candidates don't really want to do them. They're expensive (remember, they're union-made) and they are time consuming to get out. Still, there needs to be something else to take their place to help ween politicians off of them. I wonder what kind of creative solutions candidates could come up with if signs were removed from the equation.

by L.S.Erhardt on 10/20/2009 @ 10:34pm
The signs are ugly and unimaginative, that is true. But the times are bad: 1 in 6 people are out of work and winter is approaching. I've come to see the signs as a community service this election: Free kindling.

by narndt on 10/21/2009 @ 9:52am
For someone who has Marketing Manager for Starbucks and Account Manager for JayRay Advertising and PR (where she helped develop brand identities!) on her resume, I have to say I'm a little disappointed in the Strickland "brand." Not that it truly means much about what kind of job she would do, but it's just a little weird that someone with a background in marketing chose visuals that are as cliche as it gets. Rojecki gets my vote. At least he chose some unique colors.

Why don't we pass a "No Lawn Signage" bill for next Fall?

by fredo on 10/21/2009 @ 9:57am
Why don't the candidates read the local blogs and realize that most people find their campaign litter offensive and then go out and pick it up? They all claim to be good at giving the voters what they want. So start delivering. Why wait till next year?

by Nick on 10/21/2009 @ 10:46am
I'd love to see a city ordinance banning those - it would be interesting to see which candidates showed their support for such an ordinance.

by Nick on 10/21/2009 @ 10:47am
I know it's playing with fire, since it can be construed as limiting free speech, but if it's not selectively excluding specific types of signs I don't see a problem with it.

by wildcelticrose on 10/21/2009 @ 10:54am
Banning them on public right of ways while allowing them on private property (with the owners permission of course) would seem to be a good compromise.

North 21st Street is a mess with these silly things.

by NineInchNachos on 10/21/2009 @ 11:08am
its easy to pick on little folk, like people excited about participating in an election.

I would like to see more thought/action against clearchannel billboards that NEVER go away, look like crap, and are supported by an army of evil corporate lawyers.

by Marty on 10/21/2009 @ 11:20am
The Collier case - pre-election durational restrictions held unconstitutional. In 1993, the state supreme court addressed the issue of a local government's ability to regulate temporary political signs within the public right-of-way, and, specifically, the area of the parking strip.3 In Collier v. City of Tacoma, city workers had removed the campaign signs of a candidate for Congress from residential yards and parking strips in accordance with two Tacoma ordinances that restricted the preelection posting of political signs in such areas to a 60-day period prior to an election. The state supreme court held this restriction to be unconstitutional under both the federal and state free speech protections. The court first determined that the Tacoma ordinances restricted political speech, which is entitled to the "fullest and most urgent" constitutional protection, and that parking strips - the area between the streets and sidewalks - constitute a "traditional public forum" that occupies "a special position in terms of First Amendment protection, [where] the government's ability to restrict expressive activity is very limited."4 A traditional public forum is a place that by long tradition or government fiat has been devoted to assembly and debate and where the government has only a very limited right to restrict political speech. However, even in a public forum, the government may impose reasonable restrictions on the time, place, and manner of protected speech, "provided the restrictions are content neutral, are narrowly tailored to serve a significant governmental interest, and leave open ample alternative channels of communication."5

The Collier court held that the Tacoma ordinances were impermissibly content-based, because their restrictions did not also apply to similar, temporary "for sale" or "for rent" signs, and because they inevitably favored incumbents over other candidates, such as the "underfunded challenger." The court also held that the aesthetic and traffic justifications proffered by the city for the durational restriction were not sufficiently compelling to outweigh the restrictions imposed on Collier's political speech. The court, however, had no problem with the requirement that campaign signs be removed within a certain period after an election (e.g., seven days), as long as such a requirement is reasonable and applies to all other temporary events, including home sales and residential renting.

by morgan on 10/21/2009 @ 11:23am
NineInchNachos: what is their fine up to now?

by NineInchNachos on 10/21/2009 @ 11:35am

is that enough to build a post and beam round the sun?

by Nick on 10/21/2009 @ 11:58am
Diamond-studded gold-paved streets for everyone!

by fredo on 10/21/2009 @ 12:48pm
Marty, I think we all know it's legal to place campaign signs in the city right-of-way.

The issue I raised was the advisability of placing the signs there. To use Ms. Strickland for an example: does she really think that a single voter would be attracted to her candidacy by jamming thousands upon thousands of her ugly signs on every inch of our beautiful right-of-ways? For me, it's a major turn off and I can't imagine any enlightened voter who would be swayed by the vulgarity of the appeal.

by Marty on 10/21/2009 @ 2:19pm
Fredo I don't think everyone was aware of legality of signage. 4-5 comments were around the banning of signs all together. I just wanted to point out that there is history on this issue. The City tried that several years ago and ended up with a big legal bill and lost.

It is believed that yard signs rarely translate to direct votes, however the there are strong subliminal messages to gleaned.

- Lots of signs in personal yards means strong grass roots support.

- The choice of locations show where the candidate hopes to garner support. (in South & East Tacoma there are very few signs.) If your opponent has signs in an area and you don't, voters will have a feeling that you don't care about neighborhood.

- How well the signs are constructed, replaced and repaired show strong organizational skills.

- It sends the message to supporters that the candidate is doing the working of being visible and talking with people.

- They also serve to remind everyone that it is election season, and to be more aware, learn about candidates and most of all remember to Vote.

by boearc on 10/21/2009 @ 2:33pm
As the self-proclaimed campaign sign nazi for the 7th/Pacific Avenue median strip, I continually remove campaign signs from this center median as they pose a safety risk. Drivers exiting Schuster Parkway into Downtown cannot see past this visual crap and see the pedestrians entering or actually within the crosswalk. I contact the campaigns directly and notify them to remove their signs or I will remove them myself and keep in my office for their retrieval (and posting in some other inappropriate place I suppose). Most of the campaigns have been cooperative to this extent. I would love to see some candidate NOT have yard signs but actually commission local artist to create signs that are posted on private property strategically around the election district - with the signs painted on a material that could be reused (or who knows, actually sold as art).

by Mandiferous on 10/21/2009 @ 2:44pm
@Thorax: I couldn't find the article online, but I remember reading years ago about an elderly man who got in trouble (I don't remember if he was ticketed or arrested) for "stealing" campaign signs for kindling. The election was over, the signs were still everywhere, and he was basically doing a public service by cleaning them up.

by NineInchNachos on 10/21/2009 @ 3:17pm
CLAW cartoonist the JinxMedic shares a photo of some Halloween themed yardsigns at his house:

yard signs

click to enlarge. enjoy.

by Crenshaw Sepulveda on 10/21/2009 @ 3:58pm
Looks like JinxMedic has a fine hearse parked in front as well, nice touch.

by L.S.Erhardt on 10/21/2009 @ 5:19pm
@ Mandiferous

Go out at night or in the rain. Cops in Tacoma are lazy don't like to work any harder than they have to and inclement weather is one sure way to get ignored by the Fuzz.

by fredo on 10/21/2009 @ 7:58pm
Marty@ Candidates who have well constructed, replaced and repaired signs show great organizational skills?

The placement of the signs shows that the candidate is doing the work of talking to people?

Please tell me this is a joke.

by L.S.Erhardt on 10/21/2009 @ 8:05pm
Signs also show trends in candidate support. No joke, check it out... you see almost exclusively Jim Merritt signs in middle-class and wealthier neighborhoods. You see almost exclusively Strickland signs in poorer neighborhoods and in areas where minorities are the majority.

Don't believe me? Count how many Merritt signs you see in hilltop and how many Strickland signs you see in north slope. There is definitely a trend.

by NineInchNachos on 10/21/2009 @ 8:12pm
how can you be sure? the two sign designs are so similar perhaps it's just your imagination.

by fredo on 10/21/2009 @ 8:34pm
Thorax, I dunno. My neighborhood is pretty high income and I see a lot of strictland signs every place where traffic might see it. She's got the city pretty well plastered with this clutter. Then I got a campaign piece from her in my mail yesterday that noted she would "work to improve our neighborhoods". I guess she means after she's elected.

by Crenshaw Sepulveda on 10/21/2009 @ 10:33pm
It is that time of year again

by Crenshaw Sepulveda on 10/21/2009 @ 10:34pm
Getting out the vote

by L.S.Erhardt on 10/21/2009 @ 10:55pm
@ Fredo... it's just my observation. I'm not so much as counting individual signs and keeping tally. I'm seeing more of candidate X in neighborhood Y.

@ Crenshaw:

by KevinFreitas on 10/22/2009 @ 7:15am
@Crenshaw, @Thorax: Ha! You guys are cracking me up!

@Boe: Good on ya for being responsible about removing those signs!

Political speech aside I'm so not a fan of political-looking signs popping up around the same time. Terra Organics, I'm looking at you! In past years I've even seen signs for political sign makers amidst the legit ones. An ad for your company is not political speech so nock that crap off!

by KevinFreitas on 10/22/2009 @ 7:15am
@RR re: Jinx's signs: Brilliant!

by Mandiferous on 10/22/2009 @ 10:03am
Noticed last night that someone had stuck a campaign sign in my yard.

Metal sign holder: recycled
Actual sign: new protective cover for my craft table

by NineInchNachos on 10/31/2009 @ 12:04pm
Jim Merritt Strickland for Mayor

by Dave_L on 10/31/2009 @ 4:00pm
"Why don't the candidates read the local blogs and realize that most people ..."
One cannot assume those two groups are the same and/or mirror the beliefs of each other. Other than the people I know strictly as a result of this and other blogs, frankly, of everyone I know (across several strata), only a small percentage read local blogs. And few would consider themselves represented by such blog consenses and opinion. Just sayin. Personally, though I doubt any direct cause-and-effect relationship between signs and voting, as an example, I have to admit, seeing Marty's signs around my South Tacoma neighborhood (in private yards, businesses, a nearby union hall, and right-of-ways) while many other candidates' signs area absent, does make me think he at least knows we exist and has the support of my own neighbors. But heck, even in my own memory, the sign issue has been an issue for many decades.

by fredo on 11/1/2009 @ 7:11am
Dave L. @ Most of my friends don't read the local blogs either. But they aren't candidates for public office. Candidates who don't read the MSM, the local blogs, or respond to issues raised at either level do so at their own peril. If I were running for an office at the city level here in Tacoma I would be scanning the News Tribune, Exit 133, feedTacoma, and the New Takkohmen for items relevant to the contest I was involved in. You can't be a truly involved leader and have your head in the sand at the same time.

by ixia on 11/1/2009 @ 9:29am
I am greatly surprised that is not illegal for the city council to vote on election issues in their chamber before citizens take to the polls (mailboxes). This should b covered by the fairness doctrine, especially since Strickland and Anderson and Fey are running for (re)-election. The city council is held to a very low standard of ethics indeed. Never mind the yard signs (I do like Boes ideas).

by fredo on 11/1/2009 @ 10:14am
Ixia-I'm going to mark today on my calendar. On today's date in history you and I agreed on an issue.

by frents on 11/1/2009 @ 10:29am
@ fredo:

It is easy for candidates (or anyone) to start a Google Alert, so that any time a person is mentioned on the WWW, they are alerted in their email account.

This would be a smart way for candidates to keep track of what is being said about them, and to get genuine critical feedback.

by ixia on 11/1/2009 @ 11:23am
happy Dia de los Muertos to you too, fredo.


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